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Pelican Technical Article:

Drag Link Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$30 to $100

Talent:

**

Tools:

5mm Allen, 17mm (2) wrench, ball joint separator

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W123 (1977-85)

Parts Required:

Drag link

Hot Tip:

Use a ball joint separator

Performance Gain:

Proper steering feel

Complementary Modification:

Change tie rods

The drag link connects the Pitman and idler arms to the tie rods and makes sure that everything on both sides of the steering system turns at the same time. Unlike the tie rods, the drag link is one preset length and while that means that you do not need to have the vehicle aligned after replacing it, it does mean that you cannot just change out the ball joints on the ends. Check the condition of the ball joints for any rips, lack of grease, and rust or other damage. Also, if you can grasp the drag link and push pull on it and see movement, then it is time to replace it.

Over the years your car may have been serviced by multiple people including previous owners and this can lead to parts replaced with different size fasteners and hardware including the type of fasteners used on the tie rod ball joints. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. If something is different on your vehicle please let us know and share your info to help other users. If you have any questions or comments or even a different procedure you would like to share please leave it below and please include your vehicle information.

Raise and support front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your W123.

The tie rods connect the steering knuckle (red arrows) to the drop link and pitman arm (yellow arrows) and these are connected by the drag link (blue arrow).
Figure 1

The tie rods connect the steering knuckle (red arrows) to the drop link and pitman arm (yellow arrows) and these are connected by the drag link (blue arrow).

You can see in the photo how the drag link connects the pitman and idler arm (red arrow) and how the steering shock is attached to a bracket on the link (yellow arrow).
Figure 2

You can see in the photo how the drag link connects the pitman and idler arm (red arrow) and how the steering shock is attached to a bracket on the link (yellow arrow).

Over the years the design of the ball joints (red arrow) has changes from a castle nut and cotter pin to an Allen bolt and regular nut.
Figure 3

Over the years the design of the ball joints (red arrow) has changes from a castle nut and cotter pin to an Allen bolt and regular nut. Depending on how old your drag link is will determine what tools you will need to remove and install them but you are pretty much guaranteed that you will need a 5mm Allen and 17mm wrench to install the new one.

If you have an older style ball joint, remove the cotter pin from the castle nut and then remove the castle nut (red arrow).
Figure 4

If you have an older style ball joint, remove the cotter pin from the castle nut and then remove the castle nut (red arrow).

When installing the new ball joint will you will need to use a 5mm Allen to stop the ball joint from spinning (red arrow) and then remove the nut with a 17mm wrench.
Figure 5

When installing the new ball joint will you will need to use a 5mm Allen to stop the ball joint from spinning (red arrow) and then remove the nut with a 17mm wrench.

Ball joints are held in place with a surprising amount of force and while you can whack away at the top of the joint with a hammer you really run the risk of bending and/or damaging a part of the suspension.
Figure 6

Ball joints are held in place with a surprising amount of force and while you can whack away at the top of the joint with a hammer you really run the risk of bending and/or damaging a part of the suspension. Make sure to use the proper tool; a ball joint separator (red arrow) will make quick and easy work of separating the joint. Note: Do not get any part of yourself around the joint when separating as it has a tendency to let go with substantial force.

Remove the end from the link (red arrow).
Figure 7

Remove the end from the link (red arrow). If you are replacing the steering shock use a 17mm wrench and remove the connector from the mount by the drop link (yellow arrow).

If you are leaving the shock in place you can just disconnect it from the drag link (red arrow) making sure to tie it up out of the way while installing the new drag link.
Figure 8

If you are leaving the shock in place you can just disconnect it from the drag link (red arrow) making sure to tie it up out of the way while installing the new drag link.

The drag links are a fixed length so there is no need to measure the old one or adjust the new one.
Figure 9

The drag links are a fixed length so there is no need to measure the old one or adjust the new one. Installation is the reverse of removal.

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